On a busy day for mergers in the USA, the most eye-catching deal has been Celgene Corp’s proposed $640 million acquisition of Gloucester Pharmaceuticals.

Celgene will pay $340 million in cash plus $300 million in future regulatory milestone payments for the privately-held firm and in return will get hold of Gloucester’s lymphoma drug Istodax (romidepsin). The drug was approved last month by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma in patients who have received at least one prior systemic therapy.

Interestingly, Istodax has received both orphan drug designation for the treatment of non-Hodgkin's T-cell lymphomas, which includes CTCL as well as peripheral T-cell lymphoma, a larger market, and fast-track status in the latter from the FDA. The European Agency has also granted orphan status for the drug, a member of a new class of cancer drugs known as histone deacetylase inhibitors, for the treatment of both CTCL and PTCL.

Analysts believe that Celgene has secured a good deal, which is expected to be completed in the first quarter next year. They believe that with the firm’s marketing muscle, Istodax could soon provide very serious competition for Allos Therapeutics' newly-approved PTCL drug Folotyn (pralatrexate).

Adamis takes over La Jolla
Meantime La Jolla Pharmaceutical Co, which has been in serious financial straits, is to be merged into Adamis Pharmaceuticals Corp.

In October, La Jolla said it was looking to dissolve the business after a tough few months provoked by the company’s decision in February to abandon development of Riquent (abetimus sodium), its Phase III drug for lupus. However shareholders would not vote for any of the liquidation plans proposed by the board.

Now it will find a home within Adamis and La Jolla chief executive Deirdre Gillespie said the merger will create a new specialty pharmaceutical company focused on products for a variety of viral diseases, including hepatitis and influenza. She added that in addition to a recently-launched prefilled epinephrine syringe, Adamis has a pipeline including products for allergic rhinitis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Ms Gillespie concluded by saying that “Adamis is very unique in that it already has a product on the market and is expected to be profitable in the near-term”. La Jolla anticipates that there will be $2.5-$3.0 million net cash left in the company at the time of the merger.

Valeant buys skin care group
Finally, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International is acquiring Canada’s Laboratoire Dr Renaud, a skin care specialist for C$21.7 million.

Valeant chief executive Michael Pearson said Dr Renaud, which has sales of C$11 million, enjoys “a high degree of loyalty from aesthetic clinics and spas and we believe that Valeant will gain immediate entree into the cosmeceutical market in Canada”. His firm is getting exclusive access to “a world-class topical manufacturing plant and a successful sales and marketing infrastructure”, which will “further expand our reach in dermatology”.